food

Farmland Mixer

OUR LAST FARMLAND MIXER for the foreseeable future is coming up on DEC. 4TH.   So if you want to hear about some great land opportunities, talk about how to go about finding land, OR have some land you want to sell or lease yourself, then you should join us at our Farmland Mixer !

We already have some land opportunities already registered and are excited to share a preview below!

  • 50+ acres in Franklin for lease at the Vineyard (where the event is located)- livestock, vegetables, flowers, small fruit, hay.
  • up to 50 acres in Morris for lease- livestock, small fruit, orchard, hay
  • 200 acres in Preston for lease, partnership, or sale  dairy, field crops, other

REGISTER HERE!

This  FREE event will be happening at The Vineyard At Franklin on Sunday, December 4th. (931 RT-32 North Franklin, CT 06254)

There is an optional Field walk with Kip Kolesinskas from 12-1pm

Event proper will run from 1-3pm (with, of course, some great food and drink)

FSMA Produce Safety Course

FSMA Produce Safety Rule/Produce Safety Alliance Approved Grower Training Course (In person)

November 30, December 1; December 2, Snow Date
8:30 am through 3:30 pm
Middlesex County Extension Center
1066 Saybrook Rd
Haddam, CT

Registration Deadline Friday, 11/18
Space limited to 30 participants.

REGISTRATION: Course fee is $50. The preferred method of registration/payment is through the CAHNR Conferences site, paying with a credit card. Please include both a work and cell/home phone number and regularly used email address in case of emergency or cancellation.

ONLINE REGISTRATION
https://s.uconn.edu/fsmaproducesafetycourse

Nutrition Education in the Community Through SNAP-Ed

Brooke BoscoHello everyone! My name is Brooke Bosco, and I am a rising senior majoring in Dietetics. This summer I am an extension intern working with the UConn School and Family Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education Program (SNAP-Ed). UConn Healthy Family CT SNAP-Ed works towards accomplishing Connecticut’s goals and objectives to deliver nutrition education and physical activity messages to SNAP-Ed recipients and those who are eligible. We focus on delivering fact-based, tailored nutrition education to our target population of income-challenged adults, families, and children who may be experiencing food insecurity. We reach these groups in different towns including East Hartford, New Britain, Manchester, Willimantic, Enfield, and Hartford.

Part of my work is delivering direct and indirect nutrition education in different areas of the community, including elementary schools, senior centers, public libraries, community events, food pantries, and Foodshare mobile. I am also working with other SNAP-Ed team members to enhance the material on Healthy Family CT’s website and social media accounts, which also focuses on reaching our target audience with nutrition education. We hope that our education increases our audience’s knowledge and skills to achieve healthier diets and access local and affordable healthy food. We also hope that it improves their willingness to consume a healthier diet and increase physical activity.

I developed an interest in community nutrition during my supervised practice training this past spring semester. Nutrition education is so important in low-income communities because it helps to prevent nutrition-related health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. These health issues can create even more hardship and financial burden for this community. It has been an amazing opportunity to be a part of this effort! I encourage you to check out UConn Healthy Family CT’s website (https://healthyfamilyct.cahnr.uconn.edu/) and social media accounts with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

Job Opening – Project Outreach Coordinator in Northeast Connecticut

Job Opening – Project Outreach Coordinator in Northeast Connecticut

(Accepting applications until May 30, 2022)

UConn Extension is actively seeking to fill a part-time, six month position of Project Outreach Educator in Northeast Connecticut. This is an exciting opportunity for the right person who is versatile, responsive, and demonstrates an interest in local food and farms in Connecticut.

PLEASE DO NOT APPLY UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO WORK EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS.

The Project – With funding from USDA, UConn Extension is leading a project in Northeastern CT, Grown ConNECTed, that is focused on increasing sales and customers for farms producing locally grown food. The target region includes over 130 local farm and food retail businesses in 23 towns of Northeastern CT. The project is led by a Communications Coordinator and guided by an Advisory Board of farm businesses.

Summary of Primary Responsibilities – The Project Outreach Coordinator will deliver outreach across the 23-town region. Through outreach, there is a potential to tap into the social capital and networks that already exist in the region by engaging with town elected leaders, agriculture commissions, municipal employees, community-based projects, organizations and boards, as well as through tabling and making presentations about local food at community events. This approach will help build momentum for the regional marketing campaign, Grown ConNECTed.

Supervisor – Jiff Martin, UConn Extension Educator in Food Systems.

Work week – 20-30 hours per week with flexible hours. This position will require weekend and evening duties. Please do not apply if you are not available most weekends in the summer and fall. Some collaborative work (in the Vernon office) will be required, some focused work (at home) is expected, and some time traveling throughout the region for events, tabling, etc.

Candidates must provide their own transportation. The office is located at: Tolland County Extension Center, 24 Hyde Avenue, Vernon, CT 06066

Compensation – $25/hour. Timesheets are submitted every two weeks. This is a temporary, project-based position without benefits. There is an opportunity to renew the contract at least once after 6 months. This is a grant-funded position. Travel to events will be reimbursed at the federal mileage rate.

Duration – Position starts as soon as possible. Continuing or renewed employment in the following year is dependent on job performance.

Duties:

● Prepare, schedule, and implement presentations in targeted region about why and where to buy local food

● Table at farmers markets, agriculture/food events, as well as adjacent sector events (such as a health services fair or a festival where families are likely to attend) in targeted region to share communication materials, sign up residents for email, and build overall brand visibility in the region for consumers

● Distribution and delivery of marketing campaign materials to businesses, farms, town halls, farmers markets, food retailers etc in the region

● Help identify key events in the region that we should be participating in and complete registration and requirements for tabling

● Assist the Communications Coordinator in gathering content for digital and print communications, this includes updated info on farm locations, hours, products

● Provide critical input to the project team on what consumers are saying, what residents are looking for, and how town leaders are responding to the marketing campaign

Ideal Qualifications:

● Excellent time management and organization skills, including the ability to prioritize tasks while managing multiple activities and stay ahead of deadlines

● Strong presentation skills in group settings, both in-person and virtual

● Enjoys communicating with people from diverse backgrounds

● Is comfortable tabling in public settings, including setting up the display, being prepared to manage various weather conditions, maintaining engaging interaction with the public

● Familiar with region of Northeastern Connecticut; applicants from the region are strongly encouraged to apply

● Professional writing and email skills necessary to interact with public officials, business leaders, and other stakeholders

● Experience using social media, demonstrating an understanding for what works on different platforms

● Proven administrative skills, maintaining contact info, scheduling meetings, and managing Google Drive folders/docs

● Experience working with a project team, collaborative, or coalition that includes representatives of state agencies, municipalities, non-profits, and the private sector

● Works well independently as needed, good problem-solving skills

● Interested in the interconnected issues of food, health, nutrition, equity, and justice

● Must have own transportation

● Spanish speaking is a plus

● College degree preferred

To Apply – Send a resume and cover letter by May 20th to lauren.manuck@uconn.edu

The University of Connecticut is an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

People of color, women, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and members of traditionally underrepresented populations are strongly encouraged to apply.

Umekia “Mickey” Taylor: Educator Spotlight

Merging Fitness and Nutrition to Create Healthy Lifestyles 

Umekia TaylorUmekia “Mickey” Taylor ’83 (CAHNR) merges fitness and nutrition to help people create healthy lifestyles. She is a community nutrition extension educator and the supervisor for Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in New Haven County. “UConn Extension’s nutrition outreach education is valuable because we meet people where they are. Then, we bring them to whatever level they want to go to,” Mickey says. “We’re here to serve the people of Connecticut and bring value to their lives.”

Growing up in Meriden, she always had an interest in food and experimented with recipes in her family’s kitchen. She wanted a health-related career that included food and education. Taylor found a brochure in her high school guidance department about the Allied Health Sciences dietetics program at UConn. She had not heard about it this career, but it intrigued her. 

Seniors in UConn’s dietetics program complete different practicums. Taylor gravitated towards the community nutrition practicum. She went on to earn her master of science degree in human performance from Southern Connecticut State University. “I wanted to incorporate fitness as a thread in my career,” she says. “Fitness is practical choices too. Parking farther away from your destination and walking makes a significant difference. Speed walking while running errands, all these small actions add up.” 

Her first role was the nutritionist with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in New Haven. Taylor is bilingual and immersed in the Spanish language as she worked with the program participants. She began her career with UConn Extension in 1993.    

“In working with EFNEP, there’s a lot of linkages we make with other fields in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources and throughout UConn,” Taylor says. “I had close relationships with the UConn 4-H program through Wanda Little, who is a retired UConn 4-H educator and was my mentor. I’ve kept that model in my programming.”  

Taylor works with collaborative teams at UConn. One of these is the People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability (PATHS) team. The team uses trails and exercise to improve health outcomes in residents statewide. Extension educators are not islands, and she emphasizes the benefits of different expertise. 

The rewards of being an Extension educator are when participants are engaged and learning – that is when you can make an impact. Taylor and the EFNEP teamwork with people over time. They start slight changes with them that have positive impacts on their health. 

“Nutrition involves balance and variety is important,” she says. “You don’t need to go to one extreme or another. We all have cravings, and it is okay to have a treat occasionally, and then get back to healthy eating. A diet should be a well-balanced approach and fun.” 

New discoveries and recommendations challenge nutrition and health educators. All science-based educators face this same challenge. This causes mistrust or negative public perceptions. Taylor follows the research and educates her audiences as the science changes. She addresses those misconceptions because people are looking for accurate information.

Taylor’s recent focus is on social media, online education, and training community leaders. “I love the model where we work with teens and then they teach nutrition education in their communities,” she says. Taylor had a USDA-AFRI grant to build this model and is pursuing another grant for further work in the field. Other 4-H and nutrition programs replicated her project.

The past few years have also highlighted the racial inequities that still exist. Taylor participated in UConn’s Anti-Black Racism Course. She connected to the topics and concepts as an African American woman whose parents are from South Carolina. She found the course enlightening, and timely in the wake of violence, hate crimes and injustice against black and brown people. She continues engaging in topical discussions with the Extension Anti-Racism Learning Group.  

Taylor’s community nutrition and fitness programs improve the lives of Connecticut residents. Her work is representative of the land-grant mission as she engages audiences with UConn’s research and teaching. Taylor brings enthusiasm and creativity to community nutrition and established models that are enhancing the lives of residents across the nation.  

Article by Stacey Stearns 

Extension EFNEP Programming Positively Impacts Participants

Heather and a volunteer in their masksOur Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) shifted during the pandemic, just as everyone did. Last summer I had the opportunity to work with Bristol and New Britain HRA programs teaching their summer youth employment program. Their Program Director asked me to create a five-week virtual class, with 16 hours’ worth of work per week for their students. We had 20 students on each program. The program started three weeks after I received the request and I had to quickly think about how to best teach EFNEP nutrition education virtually to teenagers!
I was lucky to have a UConn student intern, Autumn Blasi, to help with the program! Although we never met in person, we worked together virtually to create a one of kind program!
I learned and used  Google classroom to create meaningful lessons for students. Each week students had to watch videos,  research, and complete project-based assignments. Students had to photograph their gardens each week to show progress. Students researched how to do different exercises and had to create beginners’ guides. Every week we had a virtual WebEx class.
Each week of the EFNEP/HRA program was theme-based on the growth of a plant. Week one was seeds and roots, week two was stems, week three was leaves, week four was flowers, week five was fruits and vegetables. Each week students had to find foods and recipes based on the week’s theme. They also had to research and report on nutrient and calorie content, selection, and storage of foods from the weeks theme.  I decided to do three “distribution” days every other week, that gave the students the tools to do hands-on, project-based learning at home.  I also divided the program into four concentration areas: gardening, nutrition, fitness, and future self with four hours of work in each. We had the students create SMART goals for each concentration area. Students had to photograph their gardens each week to show progress. Students researched how to do different exercises and had to create beginners’ guides. Every week we had four separate virtual WebEx classes with different groups of students. On distribution weeks we had a hands-on virtual class where we made recipes together.
In the beginning of the process I thought students would want connection to other students and tried to create group projects. I also thought students would want to be “seen” through the process, but they usually did not want to have their camera on. It was always their choice! It seemed that they liked the affirmation of the grading process best. They strived to do the work and wanted to make sure I SAW it. They were polite and engaged and asked for more work! They would ask for the  next weeks work if they finished the present weeks work. They started to become more confident and comfortable with the process over the last weeks. I  learned a lot during the process. I am grateful for the project!
On week one, we scheduled a safe, socially distanced distribution to students. Each student received a “EFNEP cooking kit”- with a meat thermometer, measuring cups, recipe books, and an insulated grocery bag. They also received a “container pizza garden”- students had a chance to identify each plant and plant their containers, it was like 40 – 10 minute lessons from afar! These distribution were done in the community at two different locations.
On week three we distributed the ingredients for overnight oats, and a fear factor food (spinach) to do our online recipe together. We had many technical difficulties that day and our intern stepped in to “show” the recipe because I lost video! We had the students “use your oats again,” and use your fear factor food and post the pictures. The students did an amazing job!
On week five we distributed prizes and the ingredients for our last WebEx virtual recipe, ” Salsa Pasta.” I had hoped to use the vegetables from the student’s container gardens, but the plants the agency provided were very small. I had to replace some students’ plants during the program due to critters eating them! This was my most successful video and audio! I finally figured out how to just use my office for the recipe. I made the recipe four times – two groups on Wednesday and two groups on Thursday. I also gave students other ways to make the recipe into soup and macaroni and cheese.
I heard from parents who said they benefitted from the class, in addition to their child. Especially downloading a step tracker and food diary app. They liked the SMART goals and saw improvement in some of their children’s behavior and confidence.
Our student intern, Autumn added so much to the program! She added assignments for the students on body image, diabetes, how to dress for an interview, and critiquing nutrition information on social media.
Article by Heather Pease, UConn EFNEP Educator

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

banner of Extension programs

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

UConn Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT. Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension. The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.

More information and application instructions are available at s.uconn.edu/urban4-hposition

#jobs #uconn #youthdevelopment #4h #agriculture #food

Educator Spotlight: Indu Upadhyaya

Supporting Farmers, Businesses, Students and Communities

Indu
Photo: Kevin Noonan

With positive vision and great ambition, Indu Upadhyaya joined UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources in June 2019 as an Assistant Extension Food Safety Educator. Indu obtained her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to DVM) and a Master’s degree in Veterinary Biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry, India.

After working as a practicing veterinarian in India for a year, she joined UConn to pursue her PhD from the Department of Animal Science focusing on poultry microbiology and safety.

After completing her PhD, Indu moved to the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, Fayetteville, Arkansas as a postdoctoral associate, working in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit.

Before returning to UConn as a faculty member, Indu worked as an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University for one year, where she led a collaborative research program in poultry and fresh produce safety. She also taught two upper-level undergraduate courses in poultry science and facilitated several outreach activities and recruitment drives in Tennessee.

“As I approach completion of two years in my current role, I feel respected and valued in my department and in the college community.” Indu says. “The majority of my work so far has focused on training Connecticut’s growers and producers to comply with the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), a part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that went into effect in 2016. I am also leading outreach efforts in several USDA, NE-SARE and CPS grants and look forward to contributing to them.”

Indu has conducted other trainings including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) training for meat and poultry producers. These provide the framework for monitoring the total food system, from harvesting to consumption, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Indu is working alongside extension educators in the Northeast to conduct successful trainings for producers and growers. Working closely with Diane Hirsch, an Emeritus Extension Educator for Food Safety, has made for a smooth transition. With 2020 throwing curveballs for many of us, it did not dampen UConn Extension training programs including Food Safety.

“We have successfully completed multiple farmer trainings using remote learning,” Indu says. “This includes the Produce Safety Alliance Grower training (three courses with 52 trainees) and a, three-day, Meat and Poultry HACCP training (17 participants). I have also continued farm visits during the pandemic following CDC guidelines. Various online platforms have helped me to serve the Connecticut community by remote consultation on various food safety and handling practices.”

Indu has been awarded a Hatch-Multistate Hatch grant as lead PI for mitigating the food safety risks associated with fresh produce production and is a co-PI on several USDA-NIFA, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grants.

However, the biggest highlight for her in collaboration with UConn CAHNR colleagues, is a $10 million federal grant to improve sustainable poultry production globally. The USDA-NIFA funded project is developing an integrated and sustainable program for enhancing the viability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production in the poultry industry. The project launched in September of 2020 and focuses on a systems approach integrating bird health, human health, and environmental remediations to improve the sustainability of antibiotic restricted poultry production.

As a critical element in this grant, Indu is focusing on poultry outreach for both consumers and stakeholders to educate them on interventions and sustainable methods of production. She will conduct workshops, train-the-trainer programs and on-farm demonstrations to disseminate the results of the research objectives, so the stakeholders can implement more sustainable production practices.

“While our communities face ever evolving and serious challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, associated financial difficulties and health risks, I will continue to support farmers, small business owners, students and other members of the community through research, trainings and consultation in the state, region and nationally.”

Article by MacKenzie White

Highlights of Extension Report

Committed to a Sustainable Future

Highlights of Extension report cover with blue bars and photos of agriculture, health, and sustainabilityConnecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transfor­mative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Programming moved to virtual environ­ments through online certificate programs, virtual field days, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.

One of every nine Connecticut residents struggled with food insecurity before COVID-19. For many individuals and families, challenges surrounding food inse­curity increased when the pandemic arrived and continued throughout 2020. The stress associated with food insecurity challenges one of the most basic human needs and deepens income and health disparities.

UConn Extension programs addressed the food insecurity challenges that our community members are facing due to COVID-19. Educators coordinated dairy foods donations to help address food inse­curity challenges—facilitating the donation of over 160,000 pounds of dairy products statewide.

Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities. We serve thousands of people every year. Our work is in every town and city of the state and the broader impacts make Connecticut a better place to live for all of us.

The human, environmental, and agricul­tural issues that we face change. The needs of our residents’ change. Our commitment to providing life transformative education remains steadfast.

Read the report at s.uconn.edu/extensionhighlights.